Author Archives: Dean Vendramin's Blog and ePortfolio - ECI 831

The M.O. on OEP

For my blog on OEP, I reached out toDr Verena Roberts via Twitter and lucky enough we were able to have a great conversation.  We went over many of the topics we talked about in our ECI831 class and more.  Have a listen below.
To learn more about Dr. Roberts and her work follow her on Twitter Dr Verena Roberts  or check out her website.

One of the people Dr. Roberts mentioned to check out was Dr. Catherine Cronin.  So I did on Twitter  and check out her website .  Looking through Dr, Cronin's work was very interesting and  gave me more insights into OEP.  In particular, there was an article I found that was very thought provoking -
Quote : "Open educational practices (OEP) is a broad descriptor of practices that include the creation, use, and reuse of open educational resources (OER) as well as open pedagogies and open sharing of teaching practices. As compared with OER, there has been little empirical research on individual educators' use of OEP for teaching in higher education."
Here was a table from the site that show the descriptors and areas that reveal where one is at in their openness using OEP in their teaching.  I feel that my journey started on the left of this table but I am more to the right with my current view of education.  This table is a very good visual reminder to see where we are on the spectrum as OEP educators. Where do you see yourself on your level of openness?
Here's a definition of open educational practices from Dr. Cronin. It backs up many of the statements that Dr. Roberts made in our conversation and Dr. Couros  made to our #ECI831 class.  It is also interesting to see there is not much research done on this topic in higher education.  I feel we are fortunate to be on the cutting edge with this type of education practice. What makes OEP open?
This was another great visual from Dr. Cronin's article.  This features the dimensions the OEP educators share.  Again, I used this as a self reflection opportunity.  I feel that I have grown in terms of all the dimensions and I am closer to being an OEP educator.  My conversation with Dr. Roberts also helped me put into perspective where I am on my OEP journey.  I noticed my growth especially in the dimensions of valuing social learning and challenging traditional teaching role expectations really expanding over the course of my career and agree with the article that these two dimensions (and the inner two) are interdependent. Do you agree with these shared dimenions of an OEP educator?

As usual, my Twitter journey as usually turned up many timely gems to help me understand concepts and projects I'm working on.  So I was happy to see this tweet in my feed this week.  This tweet lead me to an article by David Truss. This article, Teacher As A Compass, resonated with me as an educator, as a learner, and even about my experience in ECI831. This quote really stood out to me and again made me reflect on OEP and my journey as an educator. Do you see yourself as a compass or a navigator?
Quote : "If teachers are trying to be the content providers for students who are all on different learning voyages, the teachers will fail. However, if teachers are guiding their students, helping them seek out information, and expertise, and supporting them in creating a learning plan… if they are the compass… then they can support students on their individual learning journeys."

Again my amazing ECI831 classmates are a huge part of my learning in this class. I feel our class models OEP with the projects we do,the community of learners we have, and with Dr. Couros as our compass.
I appreciated the way Melinda used her personal learning journey.  Some in the past always focused on 'surface learning' as a way to 'educate' the people (more like give them only enough to they competently comply).
Daniel always writes a great post and his on OEP this week was no exception. One of the main reasons I got into teaching was that I love to learn too so I love those blurred lines of teacher / learner that he mentioned.  Love the Sir Ken Robinson Ted Talk ... also love this one with the sketch noting that goes with it (makes a lot of sense especially with what we are learning). .  I also can appreciate the challenges he has to make OEP come a reality in his current environment.
I appreciated the views from Loreli (and love the work she is doing with Unicorn Spit - I just love saying that too haha).  She reminded me of some of the obstacles / challenges with OEP including access to resources,  specific knowledge needed for some programs, and the 'openness' needed by both teacher and learner (something Dr. Roberts mentioned in our conversation too).

So to sum it all up:
What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of this type of practice?
- unlimited learning opportunties
- learning is not limited to what teacher gives
-tap the resources around you (social media, parents, experts, peers)
-tackle meaningful and wicked problems/challnges
-become an independent learner
-share ideas with the world
-create passionate learners
-breakdown learning barriers
-develop many types of literacies
-access open resources
-deeper understanding
- more joy in learning

- access to materials / devices
- curriculum outcomes being met
-standards required
- comfort level of teacher and/or student
-assessment demands/practices
- other stakeholders (parents/admin/other teachers) perceptions
- those who like/good with traditional methods (playing school)
- those who want us to get 'back to basics'

These are a few that come to mind (I will probably revisit and add more).  Can you please help me with my list? :-)

What might taking up OEP look like in your educational context?
I have been extremely fortunate to be able to take strides and have OEP experiences.  I like taking risks (although I do my research and don't just do something for the sake of doing something) in the classroom.  I have been also fortunate to have a lot of support from administration and my division with trying new things and have the resources to do so.  I have had so many great students willing to try something new as well (not all on board though).  I have had to work through assessment practices (like using a one point rubric, peer assessment, self assessment, different types of formative assessment).  I embrace failure which I have had but definitely see as an opportunity to learn.  I just think education should be more that memorizing a few facts, only a few feeling they are 'smart', and preparing students for their future (not reliving my past).  So this topic of OEP has been great for me as it has contextualized a lot for me and gave be lots to think about (more questions than answers - which I'm open to).

Bonus Material - How I made My Podcast

So I was thinking about what I could do for this week's entry.  I really liked what Dr. Roberts (Verena) had to say.  So after our class I started to follow her on Twitter.  I was lucky that she followed me back because once she did I could DM (Direct Message) her.  I asked if she would be willing to talk about OEP (not OPE like I first said in the podcast - Doh!).  She was super gracious with her time and we set up a time on Friday.  A created a little script with some possible questions so Verena knew what to expect from me (here's the script - Open Educational Practice Podcast Script.docx). I set up a session in Zencastr. (I am also lucky to have access to a Snowball Mic which is really great for podcasts.) Zencastr is great for connecting with anyone in the world to have a podcast with (I use the free version but there is a paid version that allows you to do a few more things (Unlimited Guests,Unlimited Recordings,Live Editing Soundboar,
Record in 16-bit 44.1k WAV,10 Hours Automatic Postproduction per Month).  Zencastr will record each connection a give each
connection its own track (we lost connection about 2/3 of the way through but were able to jump back on and finish (made new tracks which was no big deal) - can you tell where this happened?).  Once the conversation is done you can download the tracks.  I then used Audicity (freeware - donations welcome) to edit the tracks (take out a couple of 'noises' ,try to balance the levels for each speaker, and work with multiple tracks).  I also used my Garageband app from my iPhone (this app comes with new iPhones) to make a little intro and outro music to import in as well. Finally, I needed somewhere to upload the file.  I don't have the upload audio feature on weebly (need pro version - which I'm thinking of investing in) so I use Soundcloud.  I was actually out of space here because of other podcast I have done, so I had to delete one to upload this podcast.  It was a bit of a process, but totally worth it ... I like making and listening to podcasts.

My Week

Thought I’d try something a little different for a blog post and basically recap my week and the interactions I have had with technology.
I am enjoying our ECI831 class very much.  Talking about edtech and the issues that come with it is definitely my ‘jam’.  Having Meeno Rami as our guest last week was very cool for me.  I am very fortunate to be a Minecraft Global Mentor and have had the opportunity to meet Meeno at a Microsoft E2 event in Toronto.  She is super nice and really cares about the people in the program and using Minecraft Education Edition as a tool to inspire and engage students.  I also enjoyed our copyright discussion as I struggle with this a lot.  I understand and try to respect copyright, but also have had times where it was tough as I wanted to use something in a lesson or give students an experience that copyright ‘got in the way’.  On a side note, I was doing a coding video the other day in Minecraft and it involved coding a sandstorm.  I thought it would be ‘fun’ to play Sandstorm (the instrumental song) in the background.  After I published this video to You Tube, I saw that it was flagged for copyright music (wonder if some of the music projects will get flagged from class).  The notification did not shut down my channel or anything like that but it did say I can’t profit from that video.

In my social studies class, we are learning about ancient civilizations.  We are doing a major project based jigsaw activity for this.  Students are to research a civilization (8 to choose from), create a map of what they are going to build and where the information will be found, and then build a model of their civilization using Minecraft.  The research is the most important part of the project and students are using Noodle Tools to collaborate and organize their research in MLA format.  Students are to use a grid lined template to create their maps and make sure they include TODAL in it.  We will be making an atlas out of these so students from others civilizations can visit and find their way around.  Students will be displaying and constructing their using Minecraft.  I did an essentials video with them and recorded the instructions live while teaching using screen cast o matic.  It went well.  I even let the students join the world I was demoing in and here’s the result of that – Minecraft Checklist Video.  Students were also finishing up an Election Wakelet (including tweets, You Tube videos, and websites – here’s an example of one of them).  I really am enjoying the content and this amazing group of young people.  They are motivating me to try a few new things as well.

One of the things, which they are motivating me to do is use our Oculus Go VR glasses more effectively.  We used them to check out archeological digs a few weeks ago.  But I wanted to be more efficient with them. So I figured out how to create a common account, common wifi hook up, and create a playlist of VR 360 Ancient Civilization tours from them to explore and comment on their experience.  I also figured out how to take screen shots inside the glasses and export them to Facebook (which owns Oculus).  They are so engaging and immersive.  I also last week put together a Best Buy grant to get a class set of Google Expedition devices and a couple 360 cameras so we can make our own videos.  I think there are so many possibilities with these devices.  

I am also doing some research to use a game called Civilization VI in my social class.  It’s an interesting game and I think have an idea how to use them.  There is a special campaign mode for Alexander the Great.  We are lucky to have two Nintendo Switches for our eSports / Tech Club.  I was able to buy two copies of Civilization VI and I have been doing research (playing) to figure out how to best approach this.  This version is a little different than the ones I have played in the past, but I think I’m getting the hang of it and one of my own sons is familiar with it and helping me out a bit.  I also have another teacher’s intern in one of my social classes that is also looking into the using the game as well.  I’m excited about try this game-based learning experience with my students.

Right now, it’s Microsoft’s Global Connection time (formerly known as Skype-A-Thon).  I have a few experiences planned for my students like playing Mystery Skype (just did one today with a class in India – it was 3:00 PM our time which like 2:30 AM Tuesday their time), have a guest speaker coming in from the Buffalo Bill Center in Wyoming USA to talk about First Nations (interested to see what their presentation will be), and also have an executive from Microsoft Canada dropping through MS Teams to talk to our Tech Club.  I am also doing some Mystery Skypes and Minecraft In the Classroom presentations on my own time (afterschool and during prep).  These are very rewarding experiences and great ways to connect.  I’d totally recommend this experience to anyone.

My math classes are going well.  I’ve been able to use the knowledge I gained in ECI834 last semester as I’m currently teaching Work Place 10 and Work Place 20 online for the Regina Catholic Online School.  It has been interesting to teach in this environment and it is tough not to be face to face.  I’m trying to establish relationships with them, but the communication on the other end is not quite there yet.  I have set office hours (Monday and Tuesday) afterschool, but willing to meet almost anytime.  I have had a few good meeting using Blackboard, but would like to see students reach out a bit more.  Using Moodle has been good and it’s interesting to look at data like who has been logging on to what and for how long.  I was told last week that I might get a social 9 next semester which should be interesting.  I’ve learned a lot from this experience.

My other math class is being handled by my intern.  She is very good and it’s been a great experience for both of us.  I have brought her out of her comfort zone a bit with technology.  She tried my Minecraft Rollercoaster project to learn slope and it worked out well for all involved.  She asked a lot of good questions and so did the students which in turn helped me make some adjustments to the project to make it better.  It’s also impressive how my intern is using MS One Note.  It has been our digital binder and contains lesson plans, target sheets, and more.  I enjoy going into the target section, finding her target sheet, typing up the observation and feedback and then just adding the file right back into One Note for post conferencing.  Very slick. Very organized.  We also did a video analysis observation (TIFA) that I picked up from Dr. Kathy Nolan at the U of R and was productive and growth experience for both of us.

At school, I’m also responsible for our school Twitter account and indoor/outdoor signs.  At the end of each month I put together a Wakelet of the month that was and share that with staff and the community.  It’s easy to put together and I always enjoy doing it because it’s cool so see all the great things happening at our school.  We also use a product called Rise Vision to push out content to our in school monitors and have been using a product called LED Videostar to get content on our outdoor sign.  We have had a lot happen and a lot of days without students lately that keeping up to date with the signage has kept me busy.  I am not a fan of signs that haven’t been update (have seen some welcome to school messages still up at some schools).

I’ve also have been asked to join a couple of coding initiatives that will have me at some workshops in December.  One is a SaskCode workshop and the other one is a program called GoIT that I hope to get running at my school.  I have also have had some Minecraft visit request from a few people inside my school division and one from Curtis in our class.  I always look forward to these types of visits.  I have published past articles for the SFT Bulletin called Tech Talk … I just typed one about using podcasts for PD and sent it in (check this blog to see what I wrote).  Also looking at getting a RCSD Connected Educator podcast series started too.

I’ve also enjoyed working on my learning project and I’m continuing my block coding journey.  I think I’m getting a little better.  There have been some great challenges that have had me thinking for sure.  I have worked hard to put up my videos and share them on Twitter.  Got another like and retweet from Minecraft Education Edition and one from Dr. Bryan Sanders  who helps run the program with Meeno.  Meeno also gave me a shout out for people to follow on game based education.
So that’s been a look at my week J

A Remixed Blog

When I first sat down to do my post for this week, I was going to go in a different direction.  I hadn’t watched RIP Manifesto for a few years.  I knew there was a guide that went through the documentary and asked many guided questions.  It was a great experience just getting access to the NFB Campus edition through the Ministry of Education.  There is a wealth of accessible information and resources that are free for Saskatchewan teachers.  So this experience in itself reminded me that there are many open resources available to teachers if we just do a little more research and ask a few more questions. (Here’s a copy of the guided questions along with my responses from RIP Manifesto (I took off the music questions).

I sat down at my computer wondering where I should start this blog. Then I thought what if I checked out the blog hub and see what others thinking.  As always, there are some great posts filled with great insights and resources.  I feel that our class blogs are a great source of open source learning. I wrote replies to the blogs I viewed put thought using a couple of points from each blog to write my blog would be in the spirit of what open source learning can do.  So here’s my attempt at a blog remix.

I really enjoyed reading Amy’s blog.  Looks like we have a few things in common such as we have both taught Communication Media and we use RIP Manifesto with our students (had to give the disclaimer that are a few choice words in the documentary).  Her students’ reaction to the video was similar to the reaction I got from mine … when we need materials / ideas creative commons is great but when somebody wants to use our work recognition / compensation would be nice.  Communication Media has so many examples of remixing and using copyright material.  We used to have a film festival in our division called Cinemania and later at my school called OFF.  We really had to watch our

copyright on the entries we got.  There were some amazing projects that did not get submitted because copyright permission was not obtained.  I always thought that was too bad because it limited what students were producing and submitting.  There were some success stories to as some people granted permission and students created medium like their own music which was awesome. I also appreciate open source like BCcampus Open Educational Resources.  Last semester I tool ECI 834 and have access to Tony Bates’ textbook was amazing.  It was free and extremely useful.  I didn’t not expect a university level course to provide free access to a resource.  The costs of textbooks can provide a lot of stress when deciding on if a taking a university class is feasible.  Her story about the Cpl. Funduck is also very interesting.  I know that in my own school division we have received e-mails from lawyers of people whose work has been included in newsletters or other materials basically saying you need to pay for using their images.  Even though she gave permission, I’m sure she could look for compensation if her images were being used for profit or gain from the people using them.

I also enjoyed reading Melinda’s blog.  Her journey is very inspiring as she has really pushed her comfort zone (learn happens). Her Twitter journey reminds me of where I started.  I signed up for Twitter 10 years ago and didn’t really think much of it.  It took me a few years and a friend I met at a conference to get me going.  At first I just lurked in the background, but as time progressed I found this to be great community of sharers and the ideas and resources I have received has made me a better educator for sure.  I have taken my Twitter journey to another level by sharing more and participating in Twitter chats.  I also like her reference to Dr Couros’ The Networked Teacher Diagram.  It is amazing to think of the ways and the mediums we have access to for
information and ideas.  To me this represents the ultimate view of open source learning.  We have so much access that it can be an intimating and frustrating process.  That’s why developing a PLN is so important to help and share with this process.  The opportunities are endless.

My visit to Nataly’s blog was another great experience.  Her take and resources on open source resources were valuable to my understanding of open source learning.  Her diagram and info on the 5R framework (Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute) for Open Course. Reminded me of the RIP Manifesto and that open source learning allows on to obtain ideas/information, repurpose it, and then share it to provide others that same opportunity.  I am convinced that this allows society to grow and get better.  Which leads me to the other point in Nataly’s blog that one of the main purposes of school should be to help students identify good quality information sources.  I feel that many students do their research using the first page of
resources in Google only not realizing that many of the resources on the first page paid to be there.  This is probably due to the fact they want their message promoted for whatever reason.  I also feel that Wikipedia is a great open source information and a good starting point, but definitely need to sift through the information on there.  The need to create critical thinkers is more important than ever before.  Open source can provide amazing information but it can also be a haven for misinformation as well.

Next up, I checked out Curtis’ blog. His definition that open education is essentially is allowing everyone access, regardless of barriers, access to quality educational materials leading to quality education. I thought was on point.  This point is also echoed in the RIP Manifesto documentary as well.  I feel that I’m am extremely fortunate to live and teach in the country I am in.  Overall (there are still exceptions and I’m sure we have all had a look at the orange Cancopy book given to us as teachers or the copyright information posted near the photocopiers), I have access to many materials that in turn help my students have a quality education.    Unfortunately, this is not the case throughout the world.  This widens the gap in educational opportunities
for students and can prevent students in developing countries to improve through education.  If all teachers had access to quality educational content without barriers, and educators had the ability to collaborate with the materials, teachers can and will make a positive difference.  I also like the checklist of eight ways teachers can share.  I’m happy to report I can check all eight:
  • Create a Ted-Ed Lesson
  • Post a Video to a Teaching Channel (Post your videos to YouTube!)
  • Upload a Lesson Plan to the Internet (For free of course)
  • Start a Blog
  • Host a Podcast, or contribute to someone else’s
  •  Host a Webinar
  • Post to Twitter
  • Serve remotely on a Teacher Advisory Committee

Finally to wrap up my remix of ECI831 blog entries, I took a look at Matteo’s blog. One of the points that struck a chord with me is when Matteo stated … ‘but I just never realized that it's a SERIOUS business to share. It's our job.’  I’ve always believed in this.  I’ll never forget once when I was just starting out, I ask a teacher in the school I was at if I could take a look at her course notes for a new class I was teaching.  Her response was ‘No, I think you’d be better off if you developed it on your own.’  I’ve never forgotten that and I vowed not to be that person.  Now, I do see some teachers grab another teacher’s binder and just follow it as is and that’s that which is not cool and another topic for another blog.  So I make a point of sharing my materials on and offline. 
I’ve also experienced using MOOCs (like the Saskatchewan Education Digital Citizenship MOOC that was developed in part by Dr. Alec Couros and the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC by George Couros) and other online learning endeavors.  There is a wealth of amazing learning opportunities that exist out there.  I am also interested in Matteo’s learning project as there are similarities to mine.  I also sometimes question myself is this good enough to share especially online (such as a blog or You Tube series)?  Sometimes you just have to let go and enjoy the learning experience for yourself and more often than not the material you share will reach at least one person ‘out there’ even if you don’t get a response.  Kinda like this blog remix :-)

Bonus Material
Found a Quizziz on Open Educational Resources 
Give it a go  by opening
and enter this code
Here's a MOOC one can join (might be a bit late)

Welcome to My ‘Block Party’

Coding With The Agent Update

I've been at my Coding with the Agent journey for the last couple of weeks now.  I look forward to sitting down and seeing where the next tutorial will take me.  I have enjoyed seeing what the Agent can do and this has giving me a lot more ideas for using this feature in the classroom.  I have dabbled in coding since I was young (back on my Commodore 64 (so dating myself here))
and I have always felt coding is an important skill (even helped me with the few times I needed HTML on some early websites I did). I even had to 'teach' Computer Science a few years ago and my knowledge of BASIC (again I adore my 64) made me a 'qualified' instructor of QBasic .  In the past few years, block coding has emerged to help students (especially younger students) be able to explore the world of coding.  One of the most known ventures in this area is MIT's Scratch (check out their About Page for some background information). There are many other block coding programs out there including one I dabbled with when I had access to iPads called Hopscotch.  I truly believe that providing students with these opportunities to become familiar with coding and computational thinking are important.  Movements like Hour of Code and books like Code Breaker have attempted to awaken educational institutions that coding is not only fun and engaging for students but it is educationally sound (with references to Seymour Papert) and critical in future industry (who will program the robots).  I also think we need to instill our students the need to be producers of technology not just consumers or risk being at the mercy of those who are the producers.  I love using Minecraft in my classroom. In the last couple of years, Minecraft has been bought by Microsoft (see article) and Microsoft has since made an education version (see previous link). One of the features of Minecraft Education Edition is the addition of the Agent.  The Agent is your block coding friend and is a great fit in the world of blocks (click here to learn more).  The Agent uses a similar block coding to Scratch called MakeCode ( which is also used to program Microbits which I may also explore more on this journey).  I also like the fact that I can 'look under the hood' in MakeCode and check out the JavaScript that goes into each block.  That may be a journey for another day and one I can work with my own son on as he is learning JavaScript in his AP Computer Science class. I am starting to be able to predict what block code will come next, understand the logic in how the blocks are connecting, and seeing how I can use this feature in my social and math classes and provide students with valuable coding experience while meeting curriculum outcomes. I have been using Screen-Cast-O-Matic (see Matteo's Review) to record my tutorial videos and I really like this tool.  I also can appreciate Matteo's journey with his class on creating coding tutorials.  I am also grateful to Curtis for sharing his coding journey and I can relate to the 'debugging' process which is a great learning experience in itself. I have been tweeting at least on tutorial a day and I'm pretty happy with my consistency.  It was also encouraging to get a shout out from Minecraft Education Edition on my work on this too. I'm looking forward to continuing my 'block party'.  Check out my playlist below for episodes of my fun with the Agent.

Riding the Wakelet Wave

For my tech tool review, I decide to share one of my new go to tools (was mentioned and listed on our Oct 8th/19 class notes and also listed in classmate Matteo's Tweet on the 92 Tools to Check Out Before 2020 (  I used an edtech called Storify to collect and curate our school social media and produce electronic newsletters.  It was an effective tool, but unfortunately like some tech tools do ... it ceased to exist and left me search for a new tool to collect and curate social media posts.  It took awhile, but I was able to come across WakeletWakelet had all the features I was looking for and more.  This tool can definitely help you sail the 7 Cs of 21st Century Learning (check out an amazing blog on The 7 Cs of 21st Century Learning from an amazing colleague and former ECI831 student Genna Rodriguez)  The ability to collect and curate a multiple sources of media was now at my finger tips and now I could also collaborate these collections with my PLN, staff, and/or students.  Recently, Wakelet has partnered up with Microsoft and now has some amazing bonus features such as Immersive Reader and Flipgrid integration that really take things to another level.  I am enjoying riding the #WakeletWave.

Want to learn more about Wakelet:
1)Checkout my video review below (I used Screen Cast O Matic for this (to learn more about Screen Cast O Matic check out Matteo's Review - Great review / Great Tool))
2)Check out my embedded ECI831 Wakelet below (or click on the link) with media from our current class, past classes, and related info (here's the code if you want to jump in and add to the ECI831 Wakelet -
3)Check out a few of class/school/professional development Wakelets I have done:
Archeology Project
Ancient Civilization Research
Current Event
Slope Help Videos
O'Neill Newsletter
Connected Educator Presentation
RCSD Podcast PD
4) To learn more about Wakelet - Check out the tutorial at the Microsoft Educators Communiy Site
(great site - lots of other great tutorials/courses, Skype in the Classroom Resources, and a chance to become a MIE)

My ECI831 Wakelet Review

My ECI 831 Wakelet

The Strength of Networks – Oct 1/19

 Our blog prompts / questions for this week are the following:
1.How do you take up teaching in a world where knowledge is becoming obsolete?
I try to embrace this and teach in a manner that accepts this and sees this an important concept to share with my students.I look for new ways to engage and empower students to help them learn how to learn that works best for them.I see myself more as a lead learner than a traditional teacher that possess the knowledge to disseminate to the masses.I find myself taking more risks with new lessons and tools to help create the conditions that promote the ability to analyze and synthesize knowledge.

2. What steps should/could we as educators take in relation to bringing social networks into the classroom?
I try to model what I hope that students could see as an effective way to harness the power of social networks.I have implemented my social networks into class and I’m trying to great students to build theirs.I try to create and promote collaborative projects so students can build networks and realize learning is social and active.

3. How do we balance the “moral imperative” to educate children to succeed in a rapidly changing world (see the NCTE definition of 21st century literacies) with concerns around student safety and privacy?
I think the balance comes with many factors.Knowing that this is the world that we currently live in and that students are experiencing this first hand (most times without a compass in this uncharted world), schools should be preparing them for their future and not the past or the futures we think should happen.A partnership amongst stakeholders (students, teachers, administration, and parents) needs to be established in order to provide these 21st Century opportunities.There are many that argue ‘get back to basics’, but I’m not sure those that argue this understand that there are new ‘basics’.Our students (and I would argue all of us) need to learn how to navigate these new ‘norms’ in order to be successful in a global society. (I also thought it was interesting that the NCTE site stated ‘This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.’)
Mulling and Musings on this week’s assigned readings and videos:
  • Michael Wesch - Anthropological introduction to Youtube
    • In 2003 9232 hours a day (now 300 hours a minute -  - lots of mind blowing stats in this site)
    • Numa numa video (kind of reminds me of what’s going on with Tik Tok)
    • Sense of community (I even see my own kids’ use you tube in this way.  They never watch TV but they do have a strong connection to you tube and the content they consume, share, and interact with)
    • Participant observation (I’ve done this myself in this class and put myself ‘out there’ in other situations, so I kind of have an understanding of how things work in you tube)
    • Context Collapse (This is something I can so relate with as I find it ‘weird’ that I don’t know who exactly I’m talking too. I have done multiple ‘redos’ and many of the videos I’ve done.)
    • Weep for Future of Humanity (Thought the not just the spelling was funny, but it is scary and disheartening of what can be and is posted … definitely a struggle as you want to have freedom of expression but there is also a responsibility that comes with this.)
  • Michael Wesch - From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able
    • TV being a one way communication medium (really good point used to talk to the TV even though no one could hear but when you ‘talk’ on social media you are heard (which can be good or bad depending on what you ‘say’ or what context people ‘hear’ you in)
    • How to learners interact with content (this is the one that I struggle with as I try to engage students with new ways to interact with the content and some have no clue how to do this or some just refuse to care)
  • Pavan Arora - Knowledge is Obsolete
  • John Seely Brown and Richard Adler - Minds on fire
    • -The focus is not so much on what we are learning but on how we are learning (I’ve really tried to embrace this philosophy in my own class and attempt to find out how students learn best and provide them with opportunities to find their how)
    • - "productive inquiry"—that is, the process of seeking the knowledge when it is needed in order to carry out a particular situated task. (This is one reason I don’t like banning cell phones.  We should be helping students learn how to use them for exactly this point)
    • - This new form of learning begins with the knowledge and practices acquired in school but is equally suited for continuous, lifelong learning that extends beyond formal schooling. (We need to do better in schools to make school relevant and help nourish lifelong learning.)
  • The Power of Networks 
    • Shift in thinking (I totally agree that there are more connections / networks between content and people that we really need to focus on how to connect the dots better)
    • More connections than we think (This sums up my social media experience for sure as I used to feel like that island unto myself but was able to find a plethora of connections out there that I feel has improved me as a teacher and person in many ways)
    • Return to renaissance man (I sometimes refer to myself as a jack of all trades a master of none and this point kind of made me feel a bit better about that)
    • Micro and Macro look at universe (I loved that picture of the neuro network of the mouse and the millennium simulation and the importance and similarities of networks in both)
    • Active, successful participants in this 21st century global society must be able to
    • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
    • Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought;
    • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes;
    • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information;
    • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts;
    • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.
(These have become an important outcomes in the development of my learning and what I try to do in my classroom)

Major Project Mulling – Time to be Block Head

I’m in my second class in my masters and my second class with Alec.  These classes are giving me the opportunity and motivation to explore topics that have definitely been on my mind.  Totally reminds me of Genius Hour / Passion Projects which I have researched and used in my classes a few times.  I have dabbled in coding and have done Hour of Code with my students many times.  Each time it has been very successful and I know this is a direction I’d like to implement more into my classroom.  There is definitely a place to integrate opportunities like these in many disciplines not just as a stand-alone class.  I love using Minecraft in my classroom.  In my math classes, I have used this tool to explore concepts such as slope, area, volume, scale, algebra and more.  In my social class, I have used this tool to explore archeology, ancient civilizations, and Medieval castles.  There is a very exciting app that is embedded in Minecraft Education Edition.  This app is called the Agent (click here to learn a little bit more about Coding with the Agent).  The Agent is a programmable ‘bot’ inside the game that you can activate to carry out code that you have created.  The code is for this is created using MakeCode (similar to Scratch) which is an online coding site created by Microsoft and gives you the ability to use block coding, but also switch to Java Script to let you see the computer programming language ‘under the hood’ of the blocks.  I have found many tutorials provided by Make Code (click here to see some of the tutorials I be using), YouTube Videos, course inside the Microsoft Education Community (great source of many course and can also become an Microsoft Innovative Educator – that opens up many other opportunities such as a chance to go to an Education Exchange Conference that is held in different locations throughout the world), and I will also use my PLN on Twitter ( and as a Minecraft Global Mentor for help on this journey. I also hope to create a couple projects to use in my classroom 1) have my math students create a calculator with formulas for concepts such as volume and surface area and then have the agent build their shape, 2) have my social studies students program a landmark or signage in the ancient civilization world and hopefully 3) have my social studies students be able to create a code to solve a UN SDG goal (maybe trench for clean water or something like that).  I plan to vlog each time I attempt a tutorial, tweet my journey, and share my adventure with our #eci831 community.  I also have a class set of Microbits that also use MakeCode so I might extend by project to include a few more adventures using these.  I was also thinking about how a teacher can tap into social media to engage students in the election.  I am doing this with my social 9 class right now, but I am not sure how I can turn this into a project for this class, but would love if people could go to #oneillss9 and engage with my students.  I’m excited about this project and I’m looking forward to this journey.

My Social Media Journey

My relationship with social media has focused mostly on my professional life and has been a positive experience.  I have had an interest in using technology to improve my understanding of all facets of education.  In fact, my first teaching job was as an itinerant teacher that would take elementary (K- Grade 8) students to the computer lab for experiences with technology.  In this role, I basically had my own reign over what I did (as there was no set curriculum except for some keyboarding outcomes available) so I had opportunities to be creative with technology from the start.  I soon found myself using technology as tool throughout my career and consider myself a bit of a trailblazer in this area.  For a long time, I felt a little bit of an island unto myself.  There were not a lot of educators (around these parts) that were also interested in teaching with this developing tool over 20 years ago.  But as time moved on so did access to improved technology and more teachers were ready and willing to ‘dip their foot in the ocean’.  I was fortunate to serve as a technology coach and consultant in my division in the mid-2000s.  Over my time in this position, I was able to initiate and engage in many technology based educational lessons.  This was a great experience, but it was still mostly in isolation and my ability to share and learn from others in a larger scale was limited.  I had created an eportfolio and had shared a few teaching artifacts online as part of an Education Technology Diploma I did online in the earlier 2000s (through the University of Cape Breton).  This was one of my first attempts in sharing online and leaving a ‘snap shot’ of some of my views and work as a teacher.  I have been fortunate to have been selected to a few ‘edtech’ teacher education programs.  One such amazing experience was becoming an Apple Distinguished Educator.  During one event I was having a conversation with a couple of amazing teachers (and just overall great people) and one teacher from just outside Toronto set me on my social media journey that has been an absolute game changer. That medium of choice throughout this journey has been Twitter.  Now I had signed up for Twitter before (didn’t see where I was going with this so I maybe could have made my username a little more profession than @vendi55 but I’m kind of stuck with it and it has kind of grown on me) but had not really taken the plunge into the Twitterverse.  My fellow ADE and friend (Colin Harris @digitalnative) had me revisit Twitter and set me on a path that really has been transformational.  I now had that access to people, ideas, resources, and conversations that I did not have access to before.  At first I did a lot of following and lurking, as I checked out a whole new world that was before me. So many possibilities and so much potential.  As I have progressed in my Twitter adventure I have become more active.  I share resources, insights, classroom activities, participate in Twitter chats (and have even lead or co-lead a few division, provincial, national, and international events), and continue to learn more about this medium.  Hard to believe that earlier this year I experienced my 10th ‘Twitterversy’.  Twitter is a huge part of my Professional Development and I have grown a strong and extensive Personal Learning Network. I have had many positive learning experiences and conversations on Twitter especially in the area of education.  I enjoy participating in weekly #formativechat (Mondays at 5:30 PM (until DST)) and #saskedchat (Thursdays at 8:00 PM) Twitter chats as frequently as I can.  In my classroom, I have attempted to integrate Twitter with my students in the past and have limited success to date. But this year I have once again tried to engage my social 9 on Twitter to follow the election and share insights from their perspectives with the world.  So far it has been more successful than in the past as I have learned more and become more committed to creating this experience in the classroom.  One interesting story from this venture has been a producer from the CBC reaching out to me on the election due to this activity and one of my Tweets, which she was able to follow up on find my eportfolio and blog (  This led her to believe that I wasn’t a bot and that my post was valid.  I also appreciated her comment that she was impressed with work I have done in education by checking out my eportfolio.  I feel I have created a positive online presence and that if someone Googled my name they would find someone who is passionate about education and enjoys being innovative.  I look forward to continuing my Twitter / online journey and see where it takes me.  I do have other social media accounts but none that I use extensively.  I signed up for Facebook to keep in touch with few teachers I met at an international Microsoft conference (it’s fairly locked down, I have I a lot of friend requests that I just haven’t bothered to accept, once in a while I post a course completion from the Microsoft Educators’ Community). I have a LinkedIn account that again post a course completion once in a while and an Instagram account that I post pictures from nature (mostly skylines). I don’t use social media to share a lot of personal information or events, but will check out what’s trending once in a while.  I struggle with how much personal information to post as it’s good to reveal a little bit of the person behind the screen, but also there are limits (some people post too much (IMO) – like sharing the delivery room footage of the birth of their child). I also look after my school’s Twitter account and feel it’s a great way to share and promote the great thing going on at our school.  Social media has been a useful and positive tool in my career and I look forward to continue to use this medium to learn, share, and grow.

Here are some blogs that I have written in the past that relate to my use of social media (including a book talk about the book Social Leadia by Jennifer Casa-Todd (which will be a great resource for me and something I will probably use as part of my summary of learning):
Here are some wakelet collections of social media (mostly tweets) events / experiences I have been a part of:
Here’s a copy of one of our school newsletters using wakelet: